An important part of any nonprofit’s marketing plan includes surveying the target audience. Surveys are an integral part of informed marketing research because they help you to get a well-rounded picture of your target audience and what they will or will not like about your marketing campaign. Surveys are a wonderful tool to measure your marketing plan outcomes over time and to directly obtain the thoughts and feelings of your target audience. Their view matters most. However, it is paramount to stay true to your own values and. It on the grounds of your core values that you must build a bridge that reaches out to your audience.
It is very important to take the time to speak directly with the people who are already supporting your cause or to speak to those who are likely to support your cause in the future. They are the one resource that will tell you exactly what they want to see on your communications, in your online social media, or on your website. You can determine their hopes, their core values, their needs, and their questions, and use the information to inform your marketing plan and content.
Begin by asking yourself these questions:
- Where is my target audience likely to look for me?
- How is my target audience best reached?
- What is the story that I am trying to tell that people will care about?
- Why will they care about it?
Here are examples of good questions to use in a typical marketing survey:
- Demographic questions: Age, Gender, Location. Learn more about the type of person or personality you see in your supporters.
- How did you hear about us? Ex: Online, Magazine, Friends, Internet Search, Work, School, etc. Learn about the places that your target audience typically learns about you, and continue to work with your strengths, or see which areas in which you may need to put more energy.
- What made you decide to choose us (Why us, and not someone else?) Provide examples of qualities that describe your organization, and ask them to choose which one(s) they resonate with. It is recommended that you use the same phrases that would be used in your marketing, that way the survey becomes another form of testing your communications.
- What form of media do you most typically use? Ex. Internet, Magazine, Newspaper, etc. The answers to this question are helpful for future targeting and allocation of marketing funds.
- Please rate on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being your least favorite and 5 being your most favorite, the following phrases used to describe our nonprofit organization. As mentioned above, this is a good place to test new slogans or phrases you would like to begin using, or have used in the past. It can illuminate what is really making a connection with your audience.
Below is a marketing survey template with some of the most important marketing questions for nonprofits taking a closer look at the needs of their target audiences. Note that any survey can be turned into an interview when you have time with a member of your “target audience” to talk one on one. Likewise, an interview can be turned into a survey.
Example Survey Questions and Descriptions:
1. When thinking about your first choice for a tagline, which of the following words do you associate with [organization name]? Please place an “x” next to your top three choices.
Here you would provide different ideas that you have come up with for possible taglines. It is best to include a few tagline ideas that will address different target audience needs, core values, or beliefs.
2. When thinking about [organization name], which of the following phrases best describes what services we provide that are most important to you? Please place an “x” next to your top three choices.
Here you would provide different phrases that you have come up with for possible descriptions of your services. It is best to include a few phrases per target audience.
3. What are the top three needs or concerns that [organization name] meets for you?
Insert some of the top choices that you believe are the reasons people come to your organization, or are interested in your cause.
4. What kind of information do you look for from [organization name]? What is it that we provide that you wanted to know more about? Please place an “x” next to your top three choices.
Insert some of the top questions and answers that you provide for your audience. You can discover these by asking yourself what is your market “niche”? Why is it that people come to you?
5. Which of the following services are you most likely to choose us for? Please place an “x” next to your top three choices. (Or you could ask them to rank in order of 1 to 5, 5 being the most likely.)
List different services or activities of your organization and identify the types of people or their “personas” associated with what activities. This will help you in the future learn to market certain activities and services to your target audience more effectively.
6. Ask a question about a specific behavior that is relevant to your cause or services:
- How often did you [xx]?
- What made you do [xx]?
- Where did you [xx]?
Helps you to determine which behaviors are more cost-effective to target, and provides the details that will help you see where you are, or maybe, missing chances to reach your audience.
7. How can we improve [xx]? What are we doing well?
Always good to leave open-ended, but you may add specifics where appropriate. It helps to evaluate the effectiveness of your organization and what people like about you. This is good for knowing what makes you unique, and if you leave this question open-ended you leave room for collecting great testimonials!
8. What influences your decision making to support our organization’s [xx]?
Helps to understand action-oriented behaviors that you want your audience or supporters to take.
9. How would you like to stay informed or connected with us?
- Social media
- Print mail
Helps you to allocate energy and resources more effectively.
10. Demographic Questions:
- What region or country do you live in?
- Is your hometown urban or rural?
- What is your avowed ethnicity?
- Marital Status?
Information you ask for should be brief or minimal, so include only those demographics that may affect the likeliness that your target audience will be supportive or driven to take the actions you hope they will take.
11. Is there anything else you would like to add? Questions/Comments/Concerns?
Keep this open-ended. Allow for respondents to give you information freely that you wouldn’t have otherwise received, or wouldn’t have even thought to ask for.
A great resource for online survey design and developing is SurveyMonkey.com. With only a basic account, they will give you ten questions for free, which you can usually manipulate to squeeze the essential information in. This is wonderful for those on a tight budget, or for those without extra data analysts available.
Hopefully this template inspires you to search for helpful information, so that you may grow and achieve your goals!
To learn more about marketing with inspiration over information, view excerpts from my book, The Yoga of Marketing.